Prayer Warriors

“How are you being the hands and feet of Jesus?”

Prayer Warriors

Tom & Pam:  Our story is about the power of prayer, God’s abundant blessings through the pandemic, and miracles we witnessed. One of Matthew’s devos asked, “How are you being the hands and feet of Jesus?” That question encouraged our sharing.

As the COVID pandemic spread across our country and churches struggled with how to handle it, we became more afraid. Our ages and pre-existing health conditions fed our fear. The Matthew West song, “Take Heart” says it all. We woke up one day and the world had changed. We found comfort in Christian music, and we leaned into our faith. We also called upon our thirty years of recovery in 12 step programs. We knew we needed to trust in God and be of service to others. With this on our hearts, we compiled a forty-minute set of Christian music and invited our neighbors to join us. Keeping distance between us, we listened quietly on Palm Sunday afternoon. Afterwards, we all prayed. For the next fifteen months, we played a different set of music followed by prayers every Sunday afternoon. Sharing some peaceful time and bringing Jesus into the chaotic world seemed to help all of us.

A few months into this, a friend, who was a covid nurse, called. Through her tears, she shared how overcrowded and understaffed the hospital was. This was happening everywhere. These caregivers didn’t even have time to eat meals. And that was the beginning of our hospital ministry. We began delivering bagels to our local hospitals, along with notecards of prayers and encouragement. The first week, they graciously thanked us and were surprised to hear our intentions were to continue each week. That was over 16,000 bagels ago.

We participated in a few church organized prayer vigils at the hospitals but left each one with thoughts of ‘they need more.’ Again, turning to our Lord in prayer, we sought direction of what more we could do. The words “consistency” and “persistence” rang loud and clear. These medical frontline workers needed to know the Christian community was praying, and Christ was with them through every shift.

While delivering bagels one morning, we asked if we could sit outside the ER and pray. Much to our surprise, the idea was approved! Armed with lawn chairs, our compiled music sets from Sundays and a flag that says “PRAYING”, we headed to the hospital ER area for their evening shift change. We had no expectations, just hopes of conveying a message of Jesus’ love and mercy and maybe an opportunity to pray with some of the workers. We were nervous, having never been bold in our faith, praying aloud, or praying with strangers. There was no playbook of instructions, only our trust in Jesus.

The very first night, God showed us what this commitment looked like. A pregnant woman scurried by, ready to deliver her baby. A gentleman stood outside at an ER window calling to his wife inside with words of love engulfed in fear. Several people with obvious covid symptoms struggled into the ER. Ambulances and medical transports were non-stop. Three sheriffs escorted a wheelchair-bound man. He was dressed in county jail orange with shackled wrists and ankles. We made eye contact and he raised his hands in prayer. The night ended with a car from the local funeral home pulling in to pick up a covid casualty. We witnessed the complete circle of life in ninety minutes. Our ride home was silent. Our hearts were heavy, and we felt emotionally exhausted. We questioned if we could carry out this commitment.

Days, weeks, months and even years have passed. Our journey continues. We have come to know so many. We have had the honor to pray with and for healthcare workers, patients, and visitors.  We’ve kept a journal and logged over 150 nights of prayerful experiences. Strength comes from the Lord and He has guided our way and directed our spirit. He has abundantly blessed every encounter. Jesus is the Power and the Calm in the storm.

Let us introduce you to these people.

Who are these healthcare heroes? Who are these people that dress in gowns and gloves and masks and do battle with this virus? Who are these men and women that hold our hands when we are alone with our fear, our confusion, our faith, trying to understand the “what and why” before we die?

They are our sons and daughters, our mothers and fathers, our grandparents, brothers and sisters, wives and husbands, friends, and family. They are the people at the grocery store and our neighbors taking a walk. But they are more than that. They are the ones, who, as we become paralyzed with fear, suit up and help us face our fears. As we begin to cry because of our loss, they cry also. Then they wipe their tears and ours, comfort us, and go back to war. When we become afraid and just want to talk to our families, they are suited up and listen. They become our families. When it is time to meet our Lord and want a Pastor to pray with us, they are suited up, hold our hands, wipe our tears, calm our fears, and then pray with us. Yes, they become our conduit to the Lord.

When we are gone, they cry. First, they cried with us; now they cry for us. They cry for our kids, our parents, our families, and friends and for themselves because they too will miss us. Then quietly, with heavy hearts, great respect and reverence, they disconnect the machines, clean us, and prepare us for our final journey. They discard the suit, gloves, and mask they wore and suit up again, because the war continues. There are more machines to connect, more meds to give, more fears to comfort, more tears to shed and more prayers to pray.

Yes, these people are just the people we pass every day. The people we see in the grocery store lines, people getting gas, and doing the everyday things of life. But the truth is, they are different. When we lose loved ones, we become broken trying to understand. And we go to God for comfort. They do the same but then suit up and go to war again…day after day, night after night. They care for us and even love us. They do this even when they are tired, missing their families, longing to talk to someone who might understand. But they do not burden us with their stories because they do not want to worry us…because they love us. You see, they are different. They willingly go back to work because that’s where the other soldiers are; the only ones that truly understand. They must go back for those they work next to everyday. But mostly, they go back for us that are unable to care for ourselves. So, they put on the gown, the gloves, the mask and shield…they suit up…and go back to the war.

They are more than heroes, but the only explanation is to simply say they are different. We thank God for this blessing to us and that difference; a difference that cannot be understood but keeps us in awe. A difference that can only be God given. So, thank you. Thank you for making an amazing and holy difference. We will continue to pray for you and may the knowledge of Christ’s grace and mercy be with you always.

“Strength comes from the Lord…"

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